Like you, we thrive on the personal interaction that comes with a face to face museum experience. We love nothing more than sharing our passion for history—and bringing it to life—for our patrons from this community and beyond. As museums and cultural institutions around Connecticut are beginning to re-open our visitors have asked us: When will I be able to visit Westport Museum again?
The exciting news is that our Virtual Museum initiative—created to respond to COVID– has allowed us to focus on engaging the public in a way that we never have before, reaching thousands of people weekly and growing. The sad news is that we will be remaining closed—not because we want to, but because we have to.
The reasons are several:
Even though our state has happily seen a decrease in COVID cases, our museum is housed in an antique building with small rooms and an aged HVAC system. While we follow strict guidelines for surface decontamination, mask and glove protocols, and staggered scheduling for staff working in the building, our space is without air filtration or the cross-ventilation needed to host more than one or two visitors at a time.
Another, equally pressing, reason to remain closed relates to the internal structure of the Bradley-Wheeler House in which the museum is maintained. At the current time, there is a major structural failure in the center of the building that was left unaddressed for many years and exacerbated by aspects of the way the building was used. This failure was re-identified one year ago during a grant-funded building and collections assessment and we have spent the last twelve months working toward remediation. It will take will take a lot of time and a lot of financial resources to ultimately fix. We will be sharing more details about this soon.
Despite these developments we remain positive. While far from ideal, the COVID closure has allowed us to work under the guidance of professionals to fix both the structural failure and work to save collections and archives that had not been properly assessed, catalogued or preserved for many decades.
We are confident that once we are able to open the Museum to the public, we will do so with a house that is truly in order and prepared to receive guests in safety and security.
In the meantime, we look forward to continuing to engage with you in the virtual realm where it has been gratifying to see attendance—and excitement for our work—grow. Also, this summer: keep an eye out for small-group outdoor tours of historic sites around Westport, that we hope to add to our program offerings.
As always, we thank you for your continued support of Westport Museum for History & Culture and look forward to the day when we can meet again at the Bradley-Wheeler House.
Stay safe, stay well